Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Villagers

In today's San Francisco Magazine (part of the Sunday Chronicle) is a story about people who are "embracing the decision not to procreate." It is actually one of the first stories I've seen like this that doesn't treat the subjects of the articles as selfish yuppies who put their careers before having children. However, it does make them - the women especially, who are the focus of the story - sound lonely.

Zirpu and I like to play with kids. Other people's kids, as "play" is the operative term (we teach them too, as we are both naturally pedantic). Each of us have been asked if we have kids, if we want to have kids, especially me, which I answer with humor, even though I always wind up explaining myself because people don't really accept "no." Honestly I've started to hear those questions as offensive even as I know these strangers aren't trying to offend, and I'm not as angry about it as some of the people in the "Childfree By Choice" tribe on tribe. net or on some of the childless/childfree networkers like those mentioned in the article. Still, I have several friends who have had trouble conceiving for as long as five years, and a question in which the asker wasn't even all that invested would cut right to the heart of the greatest issue of their marriages at those times. Suddenly a stranger is all up in our business? Who's to know that Zirpu and I each decided separately that we didn't want to have kids?

Recently I had a long conversation with a friend who is very pro-children. He has been pressing me to have a baby since just after Zirpu and I got married. I used to think it was because he loves being a parent and due to cultural expectations, where happiness is defined as "married with children." Now I think it is just because he really loves being a parent. He's quite proud of the fact that he's talked two couples into having children, though I must say that my experience with giving advice is that people only do what you suggest when they were already inclined to do it before they ever talked to you, but he's happy to take the credit, which is fine with me.

Finally I thought we were reaching a point where I was going to have to describe to him all of thought processes about having and not having children. I explained that I'm probably too old to conceive for the first time, that we like our life the way it is, and even joked that if we had a child, she or he would be hungry and naked because we spend our money on dance lessons. Finally I explained half of the things I've thought about over the years (only half, because it would have taken a whole day to outline them all). I said that after my experience at Harry's Mother and Letty Owings Center I truly believe that it takes a village to raise a child and that the adults ahould always outnumber the kids by at least three to one. He said that he heard me and wouldn't bug me about our having kids anymore.

The next day, he was right back to telling me that Zirpu and I would make great parents.

Don't we all want to share with others the thing that we love the most?

1 comment:

Bink said...

I remember the walk and talk we took around the lake a couple of years ago when I told you I was pregnant. I still feel the way I did then - deciding TO have kids is a selfish decision, and not the other way around. Being a parent involves giving up some freedoms, to be sure, but I am voluntarily giving up those freedoms (free time, easy travel, spontaneity) because of my selfish desire to have a child. I love being a mom more than anything, and I wholeheartedly applaud your decision not to be one. Goodness knows there are already enough people in this world. Thank heavens there are people like you who are willing to be part of the "village," loving and guiding the people who already exist, rather than creating new ones!